The Penang Ferry Service is the oldest Ferry Service in Malaysia. The Penang Ferries are layered with rich history and cultural heritage. With its maiden journey in the 1920’s it has been in service since. The ferry service was operated by the Penang Harbour Board during the pre-independence era, but changed hands in 1956 and until now is managed by the Penang Port Sdn Bhd in collaboration with Penang Port Commission. The difference between Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) and Penang Port Commission (PPC) is that PPSB deals more with providing of cargo, container, ferry and ancillary services. Whereas PPC deals with regulating port operations. The Penang Port Sdn Bhd, a company fully owned by the Minister of Finance, on the 1st of January 1994 Penang Port Sdn Bhd took over all facilities and services from the Penang Port Commission. They were licensed by the Penang Port Commission to operate, manage and maintain all of the port facilities and services. The Penang Port Sdn Bhd, under the supervision of Corporate Service Units (CSU) and Strategic Business Units (SBU), are structured to run effectively and efficiently. And have been doing so for the past few years. In the past the Penang Ferries were the only source of transportation to get to Penang Island. Steadily providing their services the Penang Ferries continue to do so up till now. Even the opening of the Penang Bridge in 1985 did not bring such a hindrance to the number of people using the ferries as a method of transportation. There are 8 Ferries in its fleet. Each named after some of the many beautiful islands of Malaysia. Their names being Pulau Pinang, Pulau Payar, Pulau Talang Talang, Pulau Angsa, Pulau Rimau, Pulau Kapas, Pulau Rawa, Pulau Undan. The “Pulau” in front translates to “Island” in the Malaysian language and the name of the island follows.
THE ESSENCE OF IT
The Penang Ferries transport their passengers between Butterworth (Penang Mainland) at Pangkalan Sultan Abdul Halim and Georgetown (Penang Island) at Pangkalan Raja Tun Uda. The Ferry takes about 15 to 20 minutes to cross the Straits of Malacca in reaching either destination. With the first ferry from Butterworth at 0600 hrs, the last ferry leaves from Butterworth at 0100 hrs. Whereas the first ferry of the day leaves from Georgetown at 0530 hrs and the last ferry from Georgetown leaves at 0030 hrs. The ferries travel in intervals of 20 minutes, 10 minutes, and 8 minutes depending on the time of day. The usual intervals are 10 to 8 minutes during the day and evening. Originally all painted in betel nut orange, the ferries have undergone beautification and are colored in bright colors to have the ferries stand out more and to bring more life to these old warriors of the sea. The Ferries also cater to a more bulky size of clientele, referring to the many motorcars and motorbikes that frequent the ferry. While the upper deck, is purely available for pedestrians, the lower deck houses motor vehicles ranging from Lorries through to Bicycles. This makes up the main two decks of the ferry. The uppermost level was used previously as a location for refreshment stands. But now the area is abandoned and is not used. The boarding procedures are such that the motor vehicles excluding motor bikes are boarded first and fast under the guidance of the very efficient staff. The motor bikes follow suite. And after the destination is reached, The motor bikes which are parked at the stern remain while the other vehicles disembark and are then followed by the motor bikes. The ferries in itself are not luxurious crafts designed to provide you with 5 star services, nor has much change been brought to it. It sets itself to be a never changing icon of its past; providing an experience of a much more sentimental value to those who board it. Take for example the unique passenger benches on the upper deck. These wooden seats can be switched manually to face the direction of the destination simply by flipping...
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